Thursday, September 25, 2003

A soldier from a nearby (~25 miles away) town was killed in Iraq this month. They had the funeral yesterday. In a small area like this, the story not surprisingly dominated the front page of today's newspaper. There was a very sad picture on the front page of mourners. In the center of the photo was the soldier's young son, 9 years old, wearing his father's bars on his shirt and having broken into tears. At times like this, you put aside your opinion on the war or on the pre-war diplomacy or on the protesters or on the UN/France/Germany. You don't praise or blast the president. You simply pause to respect the town's and especially the family's grief. I know not everyone will agree with that. But it's hard to look at the picture of that little boy's tears and immediately return to partisan sniping without missing a beat. I can't do it. Not today.

I honestly hope that the deceased sincerely believed he and we were doing the right thing over there. In practical terms, it doesn't matter. Even if you join the military because you want to defend your country, you do so knowing you may risk, or even give, your life for some purpose other than that. Whether you think the purpose is noble or not, you have to do it. That's the way the military works and you know so going in.

But for his and his family's sake, I hope he thought he was serving a just cause. I hope he thought the circumstances in which he found himself were something worth risking the possibility that his son grow up without a father. I hope he believed that because it might offer his family and friends a tiny solace in these difficult times.

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